American Lung Association Highlights Three Key Steps to Reduce Risk of the Second-Leading Cause of Lung Cancer

You cannot see, taste or smell radon, but this gas causes lung cancer and claims an estimated 21,000 lives in the U.S. each year. It is an invisible enemy in homes and buildings across the country. In recognition of Radon Action Month, the American Lung Association offers three simple steps that Americans can take now to reduce their own and their neighbors' risks from radon.

"Many people don't know that radon is radioactive and the second leading cause of lung cancer," said Janice Nolen, Assistant Vice President of National Policy of the American Lung Association. "Because it's invisible and odorless, odds are good that they don't even know it is inside their homes. But they can take steps to protect their family and January is the perfect time to start."

This naturally-occurring gas leaks into homes from the ground and through spaces between the walls, floors, basements and foundations in buildings. During January, and with the recent deep freeze across the country, families have their windows sealed tight. With reduced ventilation, January is a prime time to test for radon.

"High levels of radon are found in every state. Nearly 21,000 people die each year from lung cancer caused by radon," Nolen said. "However, testing for radon and reducing your risk is easy."

Here are three steps to fight radon and ensure your community is just as focused on the fight:

  1. Test your home for radon. According to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), dangerous levels of radon exist in nearly one in 15 homes. Inexpensive radon testing kits can be found at local hardware stores or online. A certified radon-testing professional can also perform testing. If dangerous levels of radon are found, homeowners can install a radon mitigation system, for about the same price as a large television screen, to decrease the risk of harmful exposure.
  2. Let others know about the silent, invisible danger. Radon can be present at dangerous levels in all buildings, not only homes. Tell your neighbors that their homes may have elevated levels even if yours does not. Speak with local community officials and public health professionals to encourage radon testing – and installation of mitigation systems if high levels are found – in schools and childcare facilities and other public and private facilities. Some states have laws requiring schools be tested.
  3. Support policy steps to provide incentives and support for radon risks. The American Lung Association also encourages concerned citizens to support changes to policies that diminish the risk of radon. All state and local governments should adopt building codes to reduce indoor radon. In addition, potential homebuyers should be informed about the health risks of radon and the radon levels in the home they are considering.

Fighting radon requires workable strategies, and the American Lung Association led the development of the National Radon Action Plan to provide those tools. In 2016, the Cancer Moonshot report cited the National Radon Action Plan as a leading effort to reduce lung cancer. The American Lung Association and national partners, including the EPA, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and several industry and health advocacy organizations all helped develop the plan. Strategies include building in systems to reduce radon as standard practice across the entire housing sector, and providing incentives and support for radon risk reduction. The Radon Action Plan aims to reach five million high-radon homes, apartment, schools and childcare centers to prevent an estimated 3,200 lung cancer deaths by 2020.

Learn more about radon at Lung.org/radon and questions about radon testing may be directed to the Lung Association’s toll-free Lung HelpLine (1-800-LUNGUSA).

For media interested in speaking with an expert about radon gas, lung cancer and lung health, contact the American Lung Association at [email protected] or 202-715-3469.

For more information, contact:

Gregg Tubbs
(202) 715-3469
[email protected]

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